Children, Sexuality, and the Law

Children, Sexuality, and the Law

Sacha M. Coupet and Ellen Marrus

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780814723852

Publisher: NYU Press


American political and legal culture is uncomfortable with children's sexuality. While aware that sexual expression is a necessary part of human development, law rarely contemplates the complex ways in which it interacts with children and sexuality. Just as the law circumscribes children to a narrow range of roles—either as entirely sexless beings or victims or objects of harmful adult sexual conduct—so too does society tend to discount the notion of children as agents in the domain of sex and sexuality. Where a small body of rights related to sex has been carved out, the central question has been the degree to which children resemble adults, not necessarily whether minors themselves possess distinct and recognized rights related to sex, sexual expression, and sexuality. This book reflects on some of the unique challenges that accompany children in the broader context of sex, exploring from diverse perspectives the ways in which children emerge in sexually related dimensions of law and contemporary life. It explores a broad range of issues, from the psychology of children as sexual beings to the legal treatment of adolescent consent. It also explores whether and when children have a right to expression as understood within the First Amendment. This book goes beyond the traditional discourse of children as victims of adult sexual deviance by highlighting children as agents and rights holders in the realm of sex, sexuality, and sexual orientation.

Table of Contents


Sacha M. Coupet and Ellen Marrus

1 Smells Like Teen Spirit

Paul R. Abramson and Annaka Abramson

3 The Wages of Ignorance

Franklin E. Zimring

5 Sexual Media and American Youth

Piotr Bobkowski and Autumn Shafer

9 Gender at the Crossroads

Barbara Fedders